Writing Prompts: Taniwha

Today, this meerkat has voyaged to the islands of New Zealand, in search of wonder and excitement. What might I find?

The answer lies in Māori mythology, and the Taniwha. The Taniwha are said to be supernatural creatures, that live in deep rivers or lakes, and some tales of the Taniwha also place them in particularly dangerous regions of the sea, and in caves. Where they live is said to affect what they look like. If they live in the sea, they could resemble a whale or a shark. Were they to move to a river or lake, they are said to take the form of a giant lizard or gecko.

Whether or not the Taniwha are protectors or predators of humans depends on what narrative you listen to. The stories present both possibilities, and sometimes, the role of the Taniwha would change, based on the behaviour of the people they protected. Violations of the Polynesian cultural traditions of Tapu could be met with punishment, which would be meted out by the Taniwha. The Taniwha are also said to be protective of certain tribes, and they would fight outsiders to those tribes. Once again we have a fascinating legend, which like so many others is subject to a range of interpretations!

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